After being absent from the R8 lineup for a few years, Germany is once again introducing a Quattroless version of its flagship car, the 2022 Audi R8 Performance Spyder RWD. I just spent a week with her and I think I understand her now. In fact, I may be wrong about that. Kinda.
No matter how many wheels are driven, it’s not like this R8 is ever going to be boring – Audi’s 5.2-liter V10 would never allow it. This naturally aspirated, mid-mounted masterpiece remains one of the greatest high-performance engines for sale, and arguably one of the best ever. Yes, there are sports cars that offer definitely more horsepower and more torque for less dollars, but I can’t think of a car that delivers its power in a consistently more exciting way—especially acoustically.
Always a party
These days, it’s nearly impossible to find a high-performance engine without a turbocharger or supercharger, silencing its sound for more power — power that rarely finds the open road to exploit. The Audi V10 never fails to make your neck hair stand on end when you open the throttle. Even when you don’t harness all the 562 horsepower or all the 406 pound-feet of torque, there is a sense of occasion that accompanies this engine. This is true whether you’re sticking around a canyon road or a childlike idiot in the tunnels.
Manually firing the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to a lower gear, and sending the V10 racing to its 8,700-rpm peak just for the amusement — or annoyance — of fellow motorists is a never-ending temptation. More importantly, the inherent attraction is also there when you’re cruising through traffic, especially if you’re playing with shift paddles. The R8 may be remarkably docile and walkable for a supercar, but it never turns a wheel without feeling distinct.
To be clear, this topless rear-wheel drive model is about 0.2 seconds slower to 60 mph than the R8 Spider with Quattro 3.5 seconds instead of 3.3. It also tops out at 200 mph, 4 mph before the AWD model packs it in. Away from the racetracks, these slight differences can only be regretted by the most pedant of specs. On the plus side, reduced drive-line parasitic drag improves efficiency; The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the 2WD R8 at 14 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, and gains 1, 4 and 2, respectively over the SUV. Throw a V10 ruthlessly on a racetrack or on a mountain road like I did, and you’ll stare at number-one fuel efficiency and consider donating to the Rainforest Alliance to clear your conscience.
This rear-wheel drive model also feels a little more fun than the last R8 Quattro I drove. This might be the time to play tricks with me, or it really is He recently moved from Detroit to Los AngelesI now have some of the world’s most exciting valley roads at my back door. Either way, the steering feels more careful and the rear end more lively, ready to get an alternator out of the throttle. This is intentional, as Audi engineers have put more negative camber in the rear wheel geometry to encourage a more lively chassis. Don’t misunderstand, though. Unlocking the front wheels didn’t make the R8 a sweaty widow. We’re talking about degrees of fun here.
Pricing and options: what’s won and what’s lost
This latest version of the two-wheeled R8 Spyder isn’t a limited edition like the 2018 RWS—it’s a regular production model, available to anyone with at least $162,395 burning a hole in their brand name track pants. That price, which includes a mandatory connection fee of $1,495 and a gas consumption tax of $1,300, is actually a relative bargain compared to the Quattro. That’s a massive savings of $52,600 – enough spare change for the medium term Q5 SUV or a S4 sedan For those days when you really need an AWD. If you don’t want a convertible, the hardtop R8 Performance Coupe is still cheaper, starting at $151,495.
Of course, don’t just lose a few strut pillars and a front diff for that money—you’ll lose power (the quattro comes in at 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft) and get a meaningful hit of the standard equipment levels, both in terms of visual and physical performance parts. Step out from the car’s cool magnetics, adaptive steering dampers and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential (fear not – what it replaced is still legitimate LSD), along with carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber side blades, a rear spoiler and laser headlights. (You can add a lot of that gear back in the a la carte list, of course.) In contrast, the R8 RWD gains a larger anti-roll bar up front and replaces a solid rear axle in place of the hollow Quattro unit. In total, Audi says this car is 67 pounds lighter than its AWD sibling, at least before it started stacking up the options.
And speaking of buildup, the Spyder test model that Audi loaned out did just that. On top of the base price, the tester added nearly $26,000 in options. That tally included useful performance hardware like the $1,400 for the adaptive dynamic steering and $3,500 for the laser headlights, but most of it was for the visual and luxury touches. These big packages included the $3,600 Premium Package (B&O audio, extended leather, illuminated door sills), the $3,600 Sports Exhaust Package (a ring exhaust with custom performance engine mode and sport steering wheel), a $3,400 Carbon Interior Package, and a $3,400 Carbon Interior Package. Diamond stitch leather, worth $3,500 and Bullet of mercy$4,800 for the carbon outer package (carbon side blades, airbox cover, and convertible top cover).
Normally this last choice combination would strike me as unnecessarily frivolous, but I think these blades are essential to the R8’s visual identity. Its contrasting color breaks up what would otherwise become an overly long wheelbase, messing with design proportions – especially in a convertible. And speaking of the packed pedigree, I still think that the restyled nose introduced with the 2020 update didn’t look like this car did and I haven’t yet met anyone who’s willing to say otherwise.
R8 in twilight years, but you wouldn’t know it from the inside. Premium materials and hard-touch switches serve the cabin well. In particular, the lack of a large center display inadvertently lends the dashboard a timeless quality. These days, the look of the interior is faster than the old infotainment display, whether in terms of size, resolution, or even the way it’s mounted in the center stack. The R8 overcomes this time trap by powering everything through its 12.3-inch virtual cockpit gauge cluster, including Google Earth navigation and voice work. This one-screen arrangement isn’t great if you want your passenger to play deejay or wayfinder, but on the other hand, they have nothing left but to hold on and enjoy the ride.
Also, I don’t usually discuss advanced driver assistance systems in supercars, as features like adaptive cruise control are usually too practical in nature to be an important consideration in weekend cars and race cars. After all, buyers with that kind of cash usually have a luxury SUV or sedan available for their normal day-to-day chores. However, the only cruise control system you’ll find here is the traditional type and other active safety grilles like lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking are absent.
Ready or not, the future is approaching
Audi has already confirmed it The successor to this car will be battery powered. I’m sure this means that he will be more performant while at the same time being kinder to future generations. This is progress and I’m really excited to try out where the nameplate goes from here. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss out on the 2022 Audi R8 and rev-happy V10’s performance. Many. High-performance electric cars may be unrivaled in terms of extreme acceleration, but even in their guts, electric vehicles lack the mechanical noise and spine vibration so many of us buy sports cars for.
I love electric vehicles and consider myself greener than most, but in the case of the R8, I’d opt for the constant fad of internal combustion — no matter how many wheels it gets pushed into.
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